« EdellinenJatka »
and avow ourselves willing.–We are confirmed — we seal our promise by coming to the Lord's Table—we are regular in attendance at church-we keep out of bad company. For a short while we give many tokens that we really love Christ, and desire to follow Him. But the task is hard-harder than we had thought. We are pressed by temptation-we are surrounded by bad example-our. zeal flags, our love for the Saviour cools—we cease to be diligent in His service.—The work in our soul, the adding grace to grace, the putting on more and more our Lord's likeness, the dying daily unto sin, and rising unto righteousness-this great work to which we had been called, and on which we had so gladly entered, comes to a stand still! We who of late bid fair to be high patterns of Christian holiness—temples made to honour, fit and prepared for the Master's use—are now so no longer! We differ in nothing from the careless, selfish, unchristian multitude about us !
The world sees our failure, and triumphs over us. “Aye,” it says, “we knew how it would be—we knew you would soon tire—your zeal was too hot to last-all your fine promises, all your high resolves, all that talk of following Christ-what has it come to ? This man began to build, and was not able to finish !”
That is the taunt sometimes openly uttered, more often spoken only in the heart, to which many a life amongst us is exposed.
Perhaps some of us know that the reproach is deserved -perhaps ere now our own hearts have taken up this parable against us, and have charged us with the fault
of the unwise builder—with having begun, and then left off the work of holiness in our soul! If it be so, let us bear the reproach. Let it set us on self-examination, let it lead us to consider why such a word can be said against us. We shall find, I think, the reason to be this—that we have neglected the counsel of our Lord in this part of the Gospel—we did not sit down first and count the cost —we thought the work easier than it is—we thought we were sufficient of ourselves to perform it. Our failure shews us we were wrong. No man—be we sure of this—can of himself build in himself the Christian life. He has not the materials for it. He has not the patience, the temperance, the long-suffering, the power of self-denial, which such a work demands. But what then? Are we to give up the attempt altogether ? Is it hopeless to think of a “building of God” being raised up in our souls P Surely it is not—but we must seek for power from the great Master-builder. God is the source and giver of all good gifts, and no good gift will He refuse to such as seek to lead a Christian life. Gifts of patience, gifts of perseverance, gifts of selfcontrol—the power to think and do what is right—we may have them all if we will but go about them in the right way. “The cost (it has been said) of being a Christian from beginning to end is great, and yet it is not too great for such as are poor and humble in spirit.” To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.
Be we not, then, faint-hearted, brethren, even though our work be much of it still incomplete. It may be that, for some time, in some of us the work has stopped altogether-has not advanced at all! Nay, it may be that, instead of advancing, we are conscious of going back in our Christian life. It may be that, by much slothfulness in some of us, the building has been decayed !
But these, which are good reasons why we should now be more active, and go more diligently to the work, are no reasons why we should despair.
We know why it is that we have failed—we know what has caused the work to stop—we know that we have been building too much in our own strength—with too little reliance upon God, too little looking to Him for help. For the future, let our plan be changed. Build we henceforth our Christian life not in our own strength but in God's! To Him, as we set out each day to renew our labour afresh, let the appeal be made— Work thou all our works in us—Prosper thou the work of our hands upon us : 0 prosper Thou our handywork !
TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
COLOSSIANS I. 5.
For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.
THERE is nothing in which Christian men can be supposed to be more interested than in hearing about Heaven, and nothing on which we have generally more confused and unworthy notions.
Each man pictures to himself his own idea of what Heaven is like. And often this idea is borrowed from some earthly object or possession which affects him with pleasure now: from something to which he is accustomed to attach thoughts of bodily ease and happiness. And so, as I have said, most unworthy and untrue notions are entertained of heaven. To some it appears only another sort of earth, with all that is painful and irksome taken out of it—a place of rest and pleasure, where our only work will be enjoyment-enjoyment of a similar kind to what we taste at present.
Now assuredly it was not such a notion of heaven that St. Paul had before him, when in this Epistle to the Colossians, he thanks God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in his prayers for the hope laid up for them in heaven. Heaven in his eyes was associated with other images than those of mere pleasure or earthly enjoyment—with thoughts of God and goodness, and a purification of the whole man,—a casting out of all that was sensual and carnal, and a re-creating of the soul in the original likeness—in righteousness and true holiness. He does not cease to pray, he says further on in this Epistle, he does not cease to pray for his converts, that they might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding: that they might walk worthy of the Lord unto all well-pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God: strengthened with all might according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness: giving thanks unto the Father Which had made them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light ! Now it may be of use to us, brethren, seeing that the subject is thus brought before us in this Sunday's Epistle, to dwell for a few minutes on what the Holy Scriptures tell us about Heaven. For if we confine ourselves to what is written in the Bible on this great topic, and put away all description of it got from other sources, we shall surely be no losers. We shall, it may be, have to give up some fancies that have crept into our minds about Heaven, but we shall have, in their stead, much truer, much nobler views of